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Time and again, it has been proved by extensive Medical researches that most of the chronic illnesses, including autoimmune disorders, type 1diabetes, irritable bowel disorders, migraine are all associated with gastrointestinal disorders. A patient who suffers from chronic symptoms’, the history should be thoroughly investigated for an underlying food or lifestyle habits that may be co-related.
Our body is not a single entity, nor each of its organs works independently of each other. Every structure, including the skin, tissues, mucosal lining, organ, system including a huge colony of microbiota are all interconnected and work together as a biological system. Not only this, the immune system, biochemical processes, endocrine and the autonomic nervous system, are all very much interdependent. Therefore, while considering any chronic disorder, the entire system has to be taken into account, including food habits and lifestyle in the process of management of such illnesses.
1. The food, we eat reaches the intestines where they are bind to enzymes where filtration and absorption take place. Then, the nutrition of the food is absorbed in the bloodstream through the intestinal barrier. Without digestion, the food cannot escape directly through the intestinal/gut wall. The intestinal lining is typically intact and tight. It doesn’t let food, bacteria or toxins to escape directly to the bloodstream. Nutrients of food also absorbed through small villi on the intestinal wall. Usually, there are tiny holes of 1-7 microns in the gut lining through which the nutrition permeates into the bloodstream. When there is Leaky gut, the holes become bigger about 200-300 microns, and the intestinal villi are damaged too because of which the intestinal integrity is lost. That is the reason leaky gut is also called intestinal permeability. There is directly permeability on the gut lining through which the food material, bacteria, toxins escape into the bloodstream. The immune system comes into play and starts reacting. There is extensive inflammation of the intestinal lining and its structures. There is swelling and slowly scarring of the intestinal walls.
2. Evidence has proved that genetic predisposition is one of the leading causes of leaky gut. But, emerging researches have shown the not only DNA is to be blamed alone. Lifestyle conditions like high gluten diet, fat, sugar-rich diet, smoking, alcohol, stress, pain killers (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and food intolerance are some of the common conditions predisposing leaky gut. Therefore, leaky gut commonly found in chronic conditions like Celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, HIV/AIDS, cystic fibrosis, chemotherapy and radiotherapy patients. Leaky gut not only creates symptoms in bowel disorders but also linked to most conditions of autoimmune origin. It may be associated with autoimmune diseases like Lupus, Type 1diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, Chronic fatigue syndrome, asthma, allergies and mental illness. Autoimmune disorders are difficult to diagnose and treat. They can be managed and controlled but has no permanent cure.
3. Trigger factors of leaky gut are like a gluten-rich diet, dairy-rich, soy food or drugs like antibiotics or over the counter pain killers like aspirin, acetaminophen which may disturb the intestinal lining and cause leaky gut. Such triggers lead the immune system to be activated, causing an immune response in the body to produce antibodies against our own body’s intestinal tissue lining, causing inflammation. This inflammation can increase the intestinal permeability that is the escape of food and toxins directly into the bloodstream leading to symptoms like pain, diarrhoea, joint pain, fatigue, headache and depression. As Leaky gut is associated with a number of symptoms, so, it is called Leaky Gut syndrome.
4. Common symptoms are
Pain abdomen, bloating
Skin rashes like acne, eczema, rosacea
Brain fog, memory loss
5. Though strong evidence shows that many chronic conditions are associated with an underlying cause of leaky gut. Leaky gut is still not considered an official medical diagnosis, nor it has a standard protocol of treatment. A proper detailed history of the patient can detect the leaky gut condition. Therefore the management also differs from individual to individual depending on the full range of trigger factors.
6. Diet and lifestyle changes do help a great deal in such conditions. Drugs that suppress the immune response and also to control the inflammation are required in some cases. The most important message is that we know our body better than anybody else. Even if we go to the best of the specialist physician, we should do what works best for us. Never stop self investigating and self-analysing yourself about why and what may trigger or lead to such symptoms. Be your observer, and make changes accordingly, which may be very helpful.
7. Hold on to basics. As, from my own experience, the best thing is leading a simple life; more fundamental is food and lifestyle, less is the list of complications or symptoms of chronic illnesses. Stick to the essential food habits that you may have inherited from your ancestral lineage because that’s how your genetic makeup and your body is comfortable. Follow work, exercise and sleep balance. Always maintain calmness of mind by using techniques of meditation and mindfulness because a healthy mind has a high impact on the physical body.
Other measures that can be beneficial are:
To limit the amount of carbohydrate from the diet.
To eat more of fermented food (Kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, yoghurt)
Limiting dairy products and using more probiotics in the diet.
Eating more of soluble fibres in the diet.
Limiting the use of antibiotics and pain killers and using them only when necessary.
8. Vitamin deficiency of D, A, C, Zinc are related to increased intestinal permeability. So, dietary sources and vitamin supplements can be helpful to some extent. Vitamin D also suppresses inflammation in the gut. Certain supplements like Curcumin, L glutamine, collagen peptides, Zinc and probiotics are also helpful in some instances.
Thanks for reading.
Much love and blessings for all 💐